Monday, June 16, 2014

Taking a breather...

I have to apologize to both my readers and myself. I made a promise to myself that when I started this blog that I wasn't going to be one of those people I hated that never blogged. They took up that wasted space of a name and a URL to not blog. It drives me nuts because I only subscribe to blogs that I really feel are worth my time reading because they are teachers that I can get advice, ideas, and admire. So I am apologizing because I have not posted since the last day of school, and they say teachers have more time to do things when they are off for the summer!

So here is my excuse and what I have been doing...

I have been taking some time since the end of my first year teaching in special education to reflect. I have taught for 5 years prior to this year but, it was a year of many firsts because I had taught in the elementary grades. I first wanted to take a weekend and a little more to just relax, enjoy my family, and get a little caught up on life. I dive in wholeheartedly to my work and sometimes my homelife suffers because of it. I'm sure I'm not the only one that can relate to that thought.

I tried to think about things that have worked well, things that I'd like to do differently, and new things that I want to try for the first time now that I have some experience in my classroom and in my district. 

I plan on coming up with a list and trying to tackle much of it this summer to prepare for my next school year. I know that my major struggle right now is that I do not have a set curriculum for secondary students in my district. In the elementary grades the gap of academic abilities is not as wide so those teachers can adapt the regular education curriculum with more ease. Still not fun but, more doable. I have assisted my district by attending curriculum meetings with supervisors but, there hasn't been a solid decision made yet. Waiting on this to happen may take forever.. 

So here I am taking a breather but, in the back of my head freaking a little because I don't feel any more prepared for this year than last year. I have had the opportunity to gain information and ideas from all the wonderful bloggers out there and from some amazing TPT products. 

I'd really like to have an academic curriculum and a social skills curriculum that can guide my teaching. Any special education teachers reading my blog have any thoughts or suggestions on things that work for you?


  1. Hi, I can relate to taking a breather. I am so stressed with the end of the year stuff that when I get home, I am too tired to do much of anything except decompress. I was recently made head of our SPED dept (co-head actually, bit I am responsible for all of the self-contained programs as well as some other responsibilities), so there is a lot of work at the end of the year with risers. As for curriculum, there really isn't any that fit the needs of our students. There is ULS for science and social studies, but I found it to be very dry and dull, as did my students. It would still need to be added to. I decided to do monthly units for science and social studies that are a combination of topics covered in my school's science and social studies curriculum, as well as topics I feel my students need to have covered due to their needs. Most of community based instruction will be driven by these units, incorporating things like money sense and community safety. Some will also be driven by monthly themes and other life skills, such as cooking, etc. For reading, I do a combination of Edmark reading, PCI reading program, Guided reading (I use books in my library, Raz Kids, News 2 you, Reading A-Z). For writing and spelling, I use stuff from TPT and ideas from the Autism Tank and Helper. For Math, I use direct instruction based on student need, as well as Singapore Math, PCI math such as Grocery store math, and TPT products. I teach computational math, time (including calendar), money, and measurement. For social skills, I will be posting my units on my blog in the next week or so. I am doing monthly units again, which are based on Social Thinking curriculum from Michelle Garcia Winner as well as needs that came up during the year, such as how big is your problem, making friends, starting a conversation, etc. I am also including the Circles Curriculum from John Stanfield Co, that is a program dealing with different levels of talk, trust and touch among relationships a person might have with people in their lives. If I have to write a social story to address a situation, then it is something that needs to be concretely taught. I do hygiene instruction at the beginning of the year and then they do it independently, or with support, the rest of the the year. I also have life skills instruction (washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking, etc) and pre-vocational instruction (work boxes). I don't know if any of this is helpful, but there you go. Good luck!

    1. Jannike, you are amazing! Thank you for sharing. That definitely gives me a lot to think about. Sounds like we do a similar thing in our classroom when it comes to mixing and matching based on what is best for our students.

      Got another question for you... What are some of you favorite TPT products that you use. I have really loved having TPT to go to when I need a specific thing but, I thought I'd check in with you on that too. :)

  2. One thing I do with my Intellectual Disabilities class is take the grade level that my students are able to work at, and create a pacing guide for myself with the standards from there. So if my 5th grade students are working on a 1st grade level, I pulled my curriculum from the first grade standards. Now, I focus more on the functional piece so OF COURSE there were things we jumped around a bit on.

    1. Thanks for the response! I am lucky that in PA we have alternative academic standards that have already been created by the state based off of the state standards the rest of the state uses. These are already differentiated and make it super easy to know where to go in terms of a pacing guide. My issue is more of that I know what I need to teach but, piecing together all the materials together from different places because I don't have a set curriculum that goes with them is difficult. Just like Jannike said in the comment above I agree that using a little bit of this and that was how I got through my first year of teaching, I just feel like there has to be a better way.

      I've been looking into Unique Learning Systems and what they have to offer. They seem to have to best grasp on what I need in my classroom in terms of standards aligned curriculum at a level my students need. I'm just trying to convince my administration it is right. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading my blog!

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